The continuing growth of Asia’s fish and aquaculture market was the central theme at the fifth edition of Seafood Expo Asia held recently at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. With 10.4 percent growth in exhibit space from 2013, and visitors representing 66 countries, the exposition welcomed over 8,600 seafood professionals and more than 200 exhibiting companies.
According to the exhibition's organizers, Diversified Communications, the strong attendance at this year's exposition serves as a testament to the optimistic outlook for the Asian seafood marketplace which Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA) predicts will expand at a steady compound annual growth rate of 4.4 percent through to 2018.
With international suppliers keen to take advantage of increased demand throughout Asia, particularly among the expanding Chinese middle and upper classes for premium seafood products, diversity was evident across the exhibition hall with eighteen regional and country pavilions from Argentina , Australia , Greece , Italy , France , Britain , the Maldives , Mainland China , Taiwan , Malaysia , Singapore, Canada and the U.S.
Visitors included high volume buyers representing multinational companies such as Cathay Pacific, Dairy Farm International Holdings, Maxim's Caterers, Safeway Global Sourcing, Spar International, Walmart and Woolworths, as well as thousands of independent retailers, caterers, hotels, restaurants, importers, exporters, wholesalers and distributors.
For 2014, sustainable practices and ocean-friendly menus featured prominently at the event. Given that responsibly caught and farmed seafood is critical to the future of the industry and ocean health, a panel of global opinion leaders and industry experts were brought together to share their views on issues regarding the growth of the sustainability movement in Asia. Amongst those sharing their expertise were Yvonne Sadovy, professor at The University of Hong Kong, Dr. Mohamed Shainee, minister for fisheries and agriculture of the Maldives, Yuming Feng, executive president of Zhangzidao Group Co., Ltd., Rick Robins, export sales for Chesapeake Bay Packing, and David Krebs, president of Ariel Seafoods.
A presentation was also held to announce finalists shortlisted for the 2015 SeaWeb Seafood Champion Awards. Recognizing individuals and organizations for their outstanding leadership in promoting environmentally responsible seafood, judges selected sixteen finalists across the categories of Leadership, Innovation, Vision and Advocacy. Winners will be unveiled at the 11th SeaWeb Seafood Summit scheduled to take place Feb. 9 to 11, 2015 in New Orleans, La.
Commenting on the heightened interest in sustainability and green initiatives this year, Terri Tsang, show director for event producers Diversified Communications, said responsible fishing is clearly an industry driver given that it is increasingly becoming what consumers are demanding. "In Asia, green shoppers are still on a learning curve although sustainability considerations are definitely starting to impact and influence purchasing decisions."
Serving as an important platform for overseas companies to tap into the growing potential in Asia, the exposition saw a record number of product launches with over 70 new seafood lines introduced to the market during the three-day event. Product highlights throughout the exhibition hall ranged from Scottish salmon and abalone from Australia to razor clams from Ireland . "Consumers are continuing to show an increasing appetite for premium products from quality suppliers and Seafood Expo Asia is reacting to that demand," continues Tsang.
In addition, audience participation was key at one of the event's biggest draws, Culinary Congress: Seafood of the World, which held in conjunction with the Hong Kong Chefs Association, saw chefs preparing and showcasing some of the world's finest seafood products. Cooke Aquaculture was awarded the best preparation for their salmon. Visitors to the event were also treated to Master Classes and live kitchen demonstrations that took place across the trade show floor.
Seafood Expo Asia returns to Hong Kong next year from Sept. 8 to 10, 2015. For more information, visit: http://www.seafoodexpo.com/asia .